Grand Marnier Chocolate Truffles

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I needed a desert for a thanksgiving party and felt that by the time people got to desert they’d be pretty full. I decided chocolate truffles are always easy to go down, just one bite. I made these as little gifts for my weddings, used them to decorate around a birthday cake… I am also going to give them as gifts for the holidays. I will just put 5 or 6 in a little clear plastic bag, tie a cute bow and that’s it!  You can also get nice small candy boxes at cooking stores or craft stores. There are also molds to make your truffles perfectly round with no mistakes, but I like the homemade look to my truffles.  I don’t want them to look professional just taste that way.

 

Ingredients:

16 ounces of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate finely chopped.  I usually use the big dark chocolate bars (500 grams) from Trader Joe’s.

1 cup heavy cream (not whipping cream)

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier ( you can also use triple sec, framboise, or any other flavored liqueurs)

24 ounces chopped dark chocolate for melting and dipping the truffle balls.

For decorating:  Chopped nuts (pistachios, walnuts, pecans,…. ) powdered sugar, sel de cali- orange flavored sea salt, melted white chocolate, sprinkles… what ever you want: get creative.  chopped chocolate

 

Directions:  Put the chocolate into a large heatproof bowl.  In a small saucepan over medium heat bring the cream to a slight boil.  Pour cream over chopped chocolate. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth.  Add your favorite liqueur ( about 2 tablespoons).  Put mixture, which is actually called a ganache, in the fridge over night or if you are pressed for time, pour the ganache in a shallow dish and put in the refrigerator/freezer for about 30 mins.  Once the chocolate seems ready in a solid pliable form, not hard, start making little balls with a teaspoon or a melon baller.  Don’t make the balls too big, remember this will be the inside of your truffle, there will still be an exterior layer of hardened chocolate.

Place the balls on a lined baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place the sheet in the refrigerator for another 10 mins.  cheap double boilerMeanwhile chop and melt the 24 ounces of chocolate over a double boiler.  I don’t have one so I balanced a heat proof bowl over a sauce pan filled with water boiling.  Once the chocolate is melted, take the balls out of the fridge. Dip and swirl each in the melted chocolate. place on cookie sheet and sprinkle on nuts, salt..whatever you want. You can also roll it in chopped nuts.  I just kept mine with little added sprinkles and maybe one or two rolled in nuts.  Once you are done, put the truffles back in the fridge.  Continue until all are done.  By the way, don’t re-heat chocolate or over cook, it will break down and won’t work. The truffles last up to 2 weeks and the best is to refrigerate them.

Enjoy!!!!!

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Brownies with Sel de Cali

There is absolutely no reason to make brownies from a box!  It’s almost too easy to make them from scratch.  You just need some good chocolate and about 10 minutes to chop and mix. I tend to buy the huge, 500 gram bars from Trader Joes, which can make up to 3 or 4 batches of brownies, depending on how chocolaty you want your tasty bars.  I miss nice chocolates at expensive prices from Europe, or even just the access to good chocolate, but the Trader Joe’s dark Belgian chocolate isn’t bad.  I used to make brownies from a box until I moved to Italy where no boxes of brownie mix were found and that is when I discovered the amazing and healthier version of this American desert. When ever a friend had a party or an event I was asked to bring brownies.  I became the brownie and blondie maker.  I’ve passed on my recipe and taught others to make these and am proud to know that people are eating my brownies all over the world.  Now a best friend impresses  guests in South Africa, my Italian mama friend is making them for her kids’ playdates, and my non-baking Mexican friend has now found a love for baking and her children have rediscovered how yummy a real brownie can be.  Brownies from a box are actually disgusting, adding vegetable oil and an egg to a pre-mixed powder of fake-like chocolate isn’t so healthy.  Please pass this recipe on to show how easy it is to make real brownies.  It will take about 10 mins to make and 25 to bake.  The baking part is the key.  You want to  under bake  your brownies.  If you over cook them, they just become regular brownies and are a bit too dry.  If this does happen, just top them with marscapone cheese before serving, but hopefully you will get the timing right to enjoy this chocolate, gooey treat.  The most important part of making brownies is timing and salt!

Recipe

125 grams butter, cut into pieces (1/2 cup)

100 grams chopped dark chocolate -play around with the dark percentage to find your favorites.

1 cup sugar-superfine sugar works best, but costs more, so just normal white sugar works also

2 pinches of salt

2 large eggs at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup all purpose flour

150 grams chopped chocolate – I use the same dark chocolate used in the melting process, but you can use white chocolate, peanut butter chips, milk chocolate, play around to find your best indulgence.

1/2 cup loosely chopped walnuts optional.

Sel de Cali- a red wine infused salt

Basically you want to chop about 100 grams of good quality, dark chocolate into your cut up butter, place in a pan and melt completely.  Take off heat and add the rest of your ingredients.  Mix sugar completely, add eggs and vanilla, mix with wooden spoon, add two pinches of salt, then add in the flour a bit at a time to avoid lumping.  Next you will want to chop up the 150 grams left of chocolate, you can chop as finely or as loosely as you want.  It all depend if you want more melted chocolate to your brownies, which is what I choose, or if you want chocolate chunks within the brownies.  Then add your walnuts.  Sprinkle this lovely Sel de Cali, making each bite have a mouth-watering red-wine sea salt accent.  It will change your brownies.  Bake for 25 minutes at 350 f or 180 C.  Make sure you do not over cook.  Check your brownies with a toothpick. You want a bit of the brownie to stick to the toothpick.  You just don’t want them too raw, but as it cools, it’s still cooking.